The United States says it will support the East African Community (EAC) to overcome trade barriers and improve competitiveness of its export products in the international markets.
This follows a Cooperation Agreement signed in Washington last week by the two sides on Trade Facilitation, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade.
The agreement aims to increase trade-related capacity in the East African region as well as deepen the economic ties between the two parties, according to the EAC Secretariat’s dispatch to the media.
The partnership will build on the EAC’s work on customs reforms “which have already resulted in substantial reductions in the time and costs of moving goods across borders within the five partner states”.
“This agreement will help us lift the burdens that trade barriers impose and unlock opportunities for both our continents,” said the US trade representative, Ambassador Michael Froman.
With the new pact in place, the EAC can now meet international standards by bringing in US technological expertise to fully implement the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.
This, the US official remarked, will help the EAC partner states to increase food security and create additional export opportunities for products produced in the region.
During the signing ceremony, Mr Froman announced that the US will look into expanding ‘Trade Africa’ beyond the EAC borders to the rest of Africa. ‘Trade Africa’ is US President Barrack Obama’s initiative to support greater US-Africa trade and investment.
“This Agreement is an important milestone for strengthening what has already proven itself to be a promising and impactful partnership,” said Mr Froman, noting that although EA has great agricultural potential, it was exporting less because of poor quality of products.
Under the pact, the East African standards officials would be trained and electronic systems on new proposed technical regulations developed. This would enable them to increase their ability to meet international quality and safety standards by improving implementation of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. The minister for East African Cooperation, who is also the current chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, said the bloc was set to benefit from the new cooperation.
Source: The Citizen
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